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Paradise Flying Snake Care Guide

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Family: Colubridae Scientific Name: Chrysopelea paradisi Lifespan: 10+ years Size: Average 24 - 48 inches Habitat and Distribution: Southeast Asia; among the trees in tropical rainforests

Chrysopelea paradisi, or the paradise flying snake, is a slim-bodied, mildly venomous rear-fanged Colubrid snake that is best known for its ability to glide from tree to tree (hence the name “flying snake”). This is possible through aerobatic undulation, in which they flatten out their ribs and “wriggle” in the air, allowing them to glide.

Paradise Flying Snake Care Guide (Chrysopelea paradisi)
Paradise Flying Snake | © 2020 Creatures of Nightshade

Paradise flying snakes are characterized by their bright yellow bellies and black and green speckled dorsal scales, often in contrast with a vibrant orange, yellow and red pattern along the vertebral scales in many specimens.





 

Disclaimer


Paradise flying snakes are not well established in captivity, thus most available specimens are currently wild caught imports. If you are interested in keeping this species, it is highly recommended that you have at least some experience establishing wild caught imports.

 

Enclosure

As an arboreal (tree-dwelling) species, paradise flying snakes require plenty of space in order to express their natural behaviors. Since C. paradisi can get up to 4 feet in length, an adult enclosure should be at least 36 inches tall, but bigger is always better. I keep my paradise flying snakes in 60”H x 48”L x 24”D custom PVC enclosures, and they utilize every bit of space offered to them. They will appreciate a bit of floor space, given there are enough hides for them to take shelter in at night. I prefer to achieve this by orienting various pieces of driftwood and logs together so that they form a large dome underneath. Caves or more traditional hides can also be used as long as they provide adequate cover. Your enclosure should also be very secure. Paradise Flying Snakes are exceptionally fast, and due to their slim bodies and prying curiosity, a strong, reliable locking enclosure is crucial in order to contain them.


Substrate and Humidity

As a native of southeastern Asia, paradise flying snakes have high humidity requirements (80-90%RH). This means their substrate should be able to retain plenty of moisture, preferably without molding too quickly. I prefer to use a blended mix of coco husk and sphagnum moss. You may also want to consider adding a drainage layer using appropriate media such as Bio-drain to help keep the moisture more evenly distributed throughout the substrate and allow for more ventilation. Since paradise flying snakes have fast metabolisms, you can expect to spot-clean about 1-2 times weekly. Keepers that use wooden elements such as bark or driftwood to provide vertical climbing space may want to invest in coarse-grit sandpaper to sand the excrement off, as this species tends to leave their excrement on their favorite climbing spots.

Heating

Tree-dwelling species such as the paradise flying snake will not benefit much from under-tank heating elements such as heat pads. Therefore, an overhead heat source is necessary to provide them with the heat they require. You should maintain an ambient temperature of about 80°F. They are also partial sun baskers, often taking up the opportunity to do so at least 5-6 days a week in the early morning to afternoon hours. Therefore, a UVB + UVA basking bulb (UVI: 1.1 - 3.0) is recommended for use during the daylight hours. As with all heat sources, a thermostat is necessary to keep the heat output stable. For basking bulbs, a dimming proportional thermostat is the best option. Set your thermostat to 90°F and fix your probe to a safe and secure position near the tallest basking point. Using an infrared thermometer gun, you can dial in the correct temperature as needed. The basking spot should not exceed 92°F at any given time.

Diet and Feeding

Paradise flying snakes sustain on a diet consisting mostly of frogs and lizards, thus it is important that you have access to these feeders. House geckos and anoles are readily available and should be their staple diet, but small rodents can be offered on occasion. You can also offer various species of hylids (tree frogs) to expand their dietary variety. That said, keep in mind that many feeder lizards and frogs are wild caught, which increases the risk of parasitic transmission. Therefore, you should be prepared to treat your paradise flying snake for parasites in the event they fall victim to a parasitic infection.

Paradise Flying Snake Diet and Feeding (Chrysopelea paradisi)
Paradise Flying Snake Eating | © 2020 Creatures of Nightshade

Sexing Paradise Flying Snakes

Since C. paradisi are a very delicate, slim-bodied snake, traditional methods of sexing are not advised. Sexual dimorphism exists, with females being larger than males and often exhibiting a more rounded head; but this method of sexing is not always guaranteed. Therefore, the safest, most accurate method of sexing this species is through DNA testing. The sex determination test can be performed through a specialized lab such as Rare Genetics, Inc. by simply sending in a shed to be tested. Results are typically received within a few business days and will accurately confirm the sex of the snake without having to use more invasive methods of sex determination.


Breeding

While captive bred specimens exist, they are currently rare and only available on a very limited basis; therefore, most available C. paradisi are wild caught imports. Little is known about their breeding behavior, but observations of wild specimens suggest that C. paradisi breeds in small groups. They are oviparous (egg-laying), with the average clutch yield being between 8-11 eggs. Establishing hatchlings has proven difficult due to their small size and fragility, but success is improving over time as keepers refine their methods.


Enrichment

One aspect of husbandry that is often overlooked is enrichment. While some snakes do better without it than others, offering enough appropriate enrichment for paradise flying snakes is important in order for them to thrive in captivity. This includes plenty of space to climb, as well as many perches and platforms to climb onto. Grapevines, bendable branches, driftwood and PVC pipes work well in providing the proper climbing enrichment. Remember to include an appropriate basking light for them to utilize, as well.

I also recommend including an elevated water source for them to drink from. I prefer to use small glass pots used for plants that are fixed to the enclosure with suction cups. While a ground-level water dish can also be provided, mine seem to enjoy drinking from their elevated water source instead.

As with most wild caught imports, it is important to limit handling as much as possible. paradise flying snakes are not very handleable and will often bite and musk as they attempt to quickly escape your grasp.


Conclusion

In summary, paradise flying snakes are a fascinating species renowned for their unique ability to glide from the treetops they inhabit. While not an easy species to keep, they will thrive under the correct care and are slowly becoming more established in captivity. This species is very rewarding to keep as a display animal for those who are familiar with arboreal Colubrids. Their vibrant coloration, inquisitive nature and interesting behaviors are unlike any other snake, and we hope to enjoy these remarkable tree gliders for many more years to come.

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